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Can yoga be the cause for my back pain?

Q: I am a 65 years old man who has been practicing simple yoga for the last 50 years. I go for walks regularly. I am healthy and have no blood pressure or sugar related problem and live an active life. I had undergone surgery for hernia on both the sides. While on a holiday abroad, I tried a few stretching postures, which caused a ligament tear or herniated disc or an existing condition manifested now. It has no connection with the exercises I did, which were definitely not strenuous. For the past ten days I am having back pain with stiffness, I am unable to bend forwards. I do some yogic exercises recommended for herniated discs and I find much relief. I have resumed going for walks too. However, when I walk I hear a clicking sound, which is loud and acute enough to disturb me. Is it okay to go for walks? I feel this in the middle of my spine. The pain is in the lower back and my back becomes stiff if I sit for long durations and find relief if I lie down. Is the clicking sound a symptom of any dislocation of the bones? I will be coming back to India next week. What precautions should I take while travelling?

A:It is good to learn that you are taking such a good care of your physical fitness. I think you have made a reasonably accurate assessment of your problem. The symptoms are suggestive of a degenerative spine and the clicks that you feel are described as cricks and these may be normal for some persons. The symptoms usually are stiffness of the back especially on prolonged sitting. You could continue your walking without fear. Only precaution that you need to take is to avoid sitting continuously. If at all you need to sit continuously try to sit upright with a back rest and try to keep your feet up on a wooden block or any such elevation of 10 – 12 inches. take a break after every half-an-hour or 40 minutes to get up walk for two minutes and then sit down again. If the exercises that you have started give you relief then you may continue them. However, avoid any movement or exercises that increases your pain. Without seeing you all I can suggest is be guided by your pain. One more precaution, during a long journey back to India, take an aisle seat and once the seat belt sign is off, get up every half-an-hour or so and walk for two minutes. Taking an aisle would avoid disturbing your fellow passenger.

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